Taylor Candley is the top returning golfer for Canyon Springs’ girls team, as well as in the Northeast League.
But her greatest value might be as a coach and recruiter for the Pioneers.
“This is a sport where you have to take lessons at an early age to master it by the time you are in high school. But what’s really nice is that this program has been established since Taylor came to our school,” Canyon Springs coach Marty Kulesza said. “And because of the way Taylor has excelled, she’s picked up other student-athletes who have exceeded what they would’ve done, just because they’ve been in the presence of an excellent leader like her. She’s raised the bar.”
The senior with a 280-yard drive has qualified for back-to-back Class 4A state meets but has never been to the postseason with a complete team.
A team that now features seniors Candley, Jamaica Price and Sierra Smith, and a bevy of freshmen might be able to break that streak.
“I’m really looking forward to having this huge team,” Candley said. “In the past, we haven’t had teams this big. I’m really looking forward to that and also leading the team to regionals and doing well there.”
Candley, who also runs the 800 meters for the girls track team, qualified for state as a sophomore and finished 16th with a 36-hole 168 as a junior.
As a senior leader, the tournament golfer has even organized extra practices. At one session,
Candley urged her teammates to a Saturday morning clinic at Aliante after she “pulled some strings” with the staff.
Candley already has a legacy in North Las Vegas, Kulesza said.
“Taylor raised the bar for the girls at Canyon Springs,” the coach said. “The fact that she made it to state inspired many of the girls out there to be part of a winning program. It’s a big recruiting tool.”
Golf plays a large role in Candley’s life — the plus-7 handicapper has offers from Louisiana State, Arizona State and Michigan State — but she puts as much focus on academics as the links.
“My parents always say, 'You can’t golf unless you have the grades,’ ” said Candley, who boasts a 4.3 weighted GPA amidst a schedule loaded with Advanced Placement and honors courses. “The grades have to be good. My parents really care about golf, but grades are just a little bit more (important).”
A self-described political junkie with law school aspirations, Candley is as poised in the classroom as on the greens.
Candley hopes to put it all together in the form of another postseason run.
“I want to go to state and be one of the top golfers in the state,” she said.